Keeping the transportation system operating safely and efficiently is at the heart of the Iowa DOT’s mission. As we navigate our way through this unprecedented time, our workforce remains committed to supporting the movement of people and goods throughout Iowa, so that everyone can play their role to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Construction and Maintenance
As of right now, we still have $775 million in construction slated for this season and our forces continue to work on projects that improve critical infrastructure. The way we do our daily tasks may be a little different, with social distancing and allowing only one employee per vehicle, but the work is getting done. Collaboration with our industry partners to make sure everyone is staying safe and following state and federal health recommendations is happening on every job site.
With many people staying home, traffic has been reduced. This allows our construction and maintenance forces, along with our industry partners, to alter schedules in work zones to allow more work to happen during the day. Typically, best practice on a heavily traveled roadway in need of repair that requires a lane closure would be to work at night whenever possible to minimize the impact to traffic and reduce the risk to workers. With traffic levels dipping dramatically now, much of that work can be shifted to daytime hours. This increases the workers’ ability to see and be seen by traffic. This not only keeps projects moving along, but it’s also good for the workers to be outside as the weather improves and allows them to be home with their families at night.
For our trucking industry partners and those that still must travel on the road, we are keeping our rest areas open as a safe and convenient way to take a break from driving. We continue to elevate the level of cleaning and disinfecting happening in these facilities.
Commercial Driver’s License
Due to COVID-19, professional drivers are under many updated state and federal regulations, both in terms of driver licensing and vehicle considerations. Our driver licensing, motor carrier, and vehicle services support teams are finding new ways to make services available online and via telephone and finding additional ways via online chats with our staff to help drivers and trucking companies navigate the changes that are happening related to the industry regulations. Oversize and overweight permits have been issued online for some time, but recent waivers now allow for certain permits for loads associated with the COVID-19 response to be issued at no cost for interstate travel.
For those drivers with an essential need to come to a driver’s services center, our dedication to the safety of both our employees and customers includes implementing appointment-only scheduling that limits the number of people in each service center, disinfecting high-touch areas regularly and installing plexiglass barriers between our employees and customers to further reduce the risk of infection. We remain committed to providing essential services to Iowa drivers in the safest manner possible.
More than 900 Iowa DOTers are now teleworking, keeping the agency’s work moving along, while at the same time, reducing person-to-person contact. Virtual meetings continue throughout the agency and with others as necessary, as well as telephone and email communication within our ranks and with our partners.
For those workers who are unable to telework, we practice social distancing and have increased sanitation in all of our facilities, including the installation of additional hand sanitizer stations and disinfecting of high-touch areas.
It might be a cliché, but there’s never been a time when the saying, “We’re all in this together” is more true. We will continue to do all we can to keep our employees, their families, our customers, and our partners safe during this time.
To find out more about how our business processes have changed due to the fight against COVID-19 visit our frequently asked questions at https://iowadot.gov/covid-19/Public-Response.